Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Boys and Snakes

Okay, so I know that God made them...but I still don't like, not boys...they are wonderful, joy-filled blessings! I mean snakes! UGH!! But for some unexplainable reason they intrigue my oldest son. Double, no triple UGH!!

Today the boys and I had a little adventure walking across the river rocks. It is one of Joshua's favorite things to do - thanking and praising God that he is such an easy to please twelve-year-old! Actually, what he really likes to do is hike to the old, broken down dam in the river and climb around on it.

Today, as we were hiking, that little alarm went off in my head: you will encounter slithering, slimy things if you venture to that old dam. So, I told Joshua that we would be skipping the old dam. In his excitement, he ignored me and led us straight to the dam. (How many times have I shrugged off the Holy Spirit's leading in much the same way?) As Joshua climbed boldly around the dam, little three-year-old Jake and I followed him...carefully picking our way across the rocks. Joshua, about four manly steps ahead of us, excitedly shouted, "Mom, a snake!" And sure enough, on the rocks between us was a slithering, wriggling SNAKE!! Apparently, Joshua had stepped over it! WHEW!

That instant, I did what any wise mother would do: I picked up Jake, screamed and high tailed it out of there! Thankfully, that snake, wanting nada to do with us, wriggled and splashed into the water and hid itself in another rock formation. At that point, I told Joshua that IF he wanted to continue, he would do so alone. While Jake and I were headed back to shore, what do you think that sweet boy-man did? Well, exactly what any reasonable boy-man would do: he continued climbing and investigating the rocks. I watched him, gently sighing my warning, "You know, that snake was catching the sun on these rocks. He probably has friends..and you saw how easily he slid between the rocks...ummm, others may be hiding just like he is." Then, I lifted my voice to Heaven and placed this boy-man in his Creator's hands. And, of course, he continued his bold exploration. He was practicing that "Be strong and courageous" verse in the first chapter of the book of Joshua that we had just looked at - ahem! I am not so sure he was applying it correctly! But, I must confess, each step he took after the little snake encounter was more watchful, cautious...studying where he was going.

Anyone smiling with me? I am so thankful for this spirit of adventure that lives in the sons that God has blessed me with...even if it stretches this mama W - A - Y out of her comfort zone!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Weeds in My Garden

It's hard to remember that this place, this orb spinning through space is not my home. I seem to get my feet caught up in the weeds that grow here often enough, though. They tangle around my heart, only because I unwittingly plant them. Maybe you don't know what I am talking about: the weeds of doubt, the thistles of despair, the nettles of carelessness, the dandelions of self-centeredness, envy...and I could go on and on. They pull at my feet and trip me, until I inevitably stumble and fall. With my face buried in the earth, I raise my eyes up and can easily identify the source: Me, I have nursed them in the depths of my heart!

They are ugly...they make me ugly. How could I choose to let something so...temporary, so hideous, to consume me when I could choose to let the Beautiful One consume me, the One who is good, pure and true? I don't know...but, there is only one word for these weeds I have planted and watered: SIN. There, now I've said it. I am a sinner. No. I am a sinner saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. He is all that is good in me. These weeds that tangle, He has put to death. I need to choose to live this Truth. To live this live His Truth takes strength and courage. I lack both. I am a weakling and a coward. Oh, another truth about me!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things Phil. 4:8

Be strong and very courageous
. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Joshua 1:7

Butterflies and Broken Wings

If I were a photographer, I would slip outside and click a picture of the little butterfly Jacob chased this morning. He raced around the yard, arms outstretched to the sky. Every time he came close enough to draw his hands together the butterfly fluttered away, or soared out of his reach, only to land gracefully on another blossom.

Slowly, God began stirring my heart. He reminded me of our butterfly house. We raised painted lady butterflies when Joshua was little more than six years old. I remember how the tiny little wormy looking caterpillars slowly grew into stronger caterpillars - five in all - crawling to the top of their little netted house. The six-year-old was watching, anticipating with wide-eyed excitement, checking constantly to see if they were moving on to the next stage. Joshua drew pictures periodically of the caterpillars, made a little book of it, labeling each stage.

Then, the day came. The caterpillars were no longer visible, safely hidden within the chrysalis. We waited and watched. Several times a day, Joshua rushed into the school room to see if anything had become of his little caterpillars. Everyday I reminded him that the caterpillars were indeed still alive, but they were undergoing a amazing process that would change them into butterflies.

Finally, one morning, Joshua's voice rang urgently, "Mom, you HAVE to come see this."

And there it was...a butterfly emerging gracefully from the chrysalis. Beautiful wings stretching, filling slowly with fluid, until she could fly. Four of the butterflies emerged that day. The fifth came the next day, not exactly as graceful as the rest. Something was wrong with one of her little did not look fully developed, making it impossible for her to fly like the rest of the others. Joshua and I watched, waiting, hoping that as time passed her wing would fill with fluid, would open to its full potential and enable the little lady to fly. She became very dear to us.

Three days later, after feeding the butterflies a steady diet of fruit and juices, it was time to release them. We prayed and celebrated...we took the butterfly house outside into the warm sunshine. Joshua ceremoniously unzipped the top and said a somewhat sad goodbye to his friends. All five flew out of the house, lighted on the grass, flew a little way, fought the soft breeze, as if learning something new. Four - the healthy ones, of course - fluttered by Joshua, rested on him a moment and then flew away. It was almost as if they knew him...and they were saying their good-byes too.

The fifth one flew back to Joshua, landed on his hand and stayed for several moments. Then, she flew away again, only to return to his hand. By this time, the rest of our Painted Ladies were out of sight, having slipped away in the wind perhaps drawn by the bright flowers. But this little lady, she had no intention of going. Four times we tried to get her to leave, each time she came back and landed gently on Joshua's hand. And so continued our loving relationship with the broken butterfly.

What seems strange to me is that she recognized her hurt and knew she needed us. She sought refuge with Joshua. She knew from experience that he offered safety and security. I told him that his butterfly would live a small life in the butterfly house, but that it would be good. We brought her flowers from the garden, continued feeding her fruit and juice, gave her water.

This week, for Bible study, we have been studying control. And perhaps that is why God brought this story to my mind. I am so like that broken butterfly...and I have come to understand that brokenness is God's gift. It reminds me of how desperately I need Him...and how adequate He is to meet all my needs. You see, that butterfly KNEW Joshua was a refuge. She somehow understood that Joshua would care for her and meet her needs, keep her in safety. She did not have to fly off on her own and risk hurt. She could choose to stay in the safety of Joshua's care and control. I am no different, I can choose to stay in the safety of God's care and control. His boundaries are not established to keep me caged, but to protect me from the harms of the world. Today, I choose to live like that little beautiful butterfly. I choose to live in the refuge God provides for me! And I know from experience that God will gently lead me...He is good and His provision is always good...and it is always enough!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thankfulness in My Heart

Oh, as silence surrounds me, thankfulness fills my heart! The dizziness and fainting spells that have plagued me vanished for a time. I felt energetic and free...a bird who had just learned to soar. The sun shone brightly and the birds serenaded us as we had a picnic lunch out on the patio. We talked about God's gift of lovely of Him to teach us song through the birds that sing, the wind that blows,the leaves that rustle. Yes! Everything gives Him praise.

Jacob and I worked played outside...pulling weeds, planting flowers, slipping down the slide, digging stones, . Every stone the little guy found was a new treasure, met with squeals of delight, priceless to his little hands! When he ran out of new, he buried what he had already discovered and searched for it again. Then he would squeal anew and say, "Mama, mama! Look what I found!" Who could withhold a smile? Not I.

Joshua is so motivated to finish school that he completed two days today. It might have something to do with not having television until school is finished for the year...not sure! Chuckle, chuckle. He then joined us outside, to read and talk. Calling little stones treasures or pulling weeds play has long since become silly to him. As a twelve year old, he is happy to announce that pulling weeds is dirty work and little stones are without value!

And for so many things I give thanks:
*birds singing
*puffed up robin - does she have a nest nearby?
*little mister celebrating his treasure
*dirty little hands washed clean
*Joshua diligently completing school
*Joshua taking the initiative to mow the lawn
*sunshine with a cool breeze
*dizziness has passed - almost a complete week with out blacking out!
*wisdom from God to mother these two boys another day
*the joy of reading aloud to my sons
*eyes to see the page
*ears to hear His voice
*when no one sees or hears me...He does
*His mercies are new to me every morning
*the compassion of my groom
*the new ladies that have joined our Bible study group

For these I give Thee thanks, Lord. Praise to You who allowed me such beauty today!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

For Mom

Mama worked when I was young...nights. I don't remember her much in my little growing up years. I know that she had warm hugs, kind words and laughter...laughter that echoed through the house and scared the loneliness away. She cried to leave her babies, but sacrificed because money was scarce. I remember Mama sending me out to play, knee deep in mud, grasping orange-black fish with my hands, which would undoubtedly end up in her utility sink along with a full bucket of creek water - maybe two. One more mess for Mama to clean up - she did it without complaint, mostly. Crush my inquisitive spirit or squelch my searching soul? Never. Instead, she sent me out...encouraged me to explore God's creation. Years passed, I lost interest in the creek, catching fish with bare hand. She sat across the table from me, a Scrabble board in between. She taught me how to lose...and how to win...with grace. We talked over those games, about school, and death. Years passed, Mama, her aged hands, held mine. She wept with me as I mourned the loss of my first child. Her tears were bitter, her questions were too hard: "Why? Who is this God you serve? How do you still praise Him?" Answers filled my mind, but my voice failed. I had told her not to come...but she did. I knew she would ask questions that had no answers...only God...only by His grace...only Him. Please God, hold me...hold Mama. A year later, Mama, her aged hands held him...the baby as he cried. She laughed with us and rejoiced and said, "How good of God to bless you with this child." Tears flowed down our cheeks, thanksgiving flowed...only God..only by His grace...only Him. Please God, hold me...hold Mama...hold this child. What I learned from Mama, can't be written with pen and ink. The lessons that she taught were in love written on my heart. She spent time with me, when she had little. She bought me new shoes when hers were more than worn out. She taught me I had value in a world that screamed I did not. How do you put a thank you for that into words?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Blind

When the white coat gently whispered
"You'll slowly lose your sight"
I felt the darkest night press in.

As clear turned to teary blur,
I wondered when the light
in my eye would no longer shine?

My life flashed before me
and memory brought the thought,
"To this world you entered
in without sight to see...
to see the One who granted
all this beauty and love for you.
To your eye, the light of the sun may grow dim, but the Light of Him who loves you will shine through all eternity, allowing you to see more, deeper, than you ever did before. >